Mirzapur web series: HC quashes FIR against Farhan Akhtar, others

Published on Dec 11, 2021 12:27 AM IST

Others accused in the case are Karan Anshuman, the director of season one, Gurmeet Singh, the director of season two, Vineet Krishna, the writer of season one, and Puneet Krishna, the writer of season two.

Mumbai, 16, April 2015 - Bollywood Actor,Director and Founder of MARD foundation Farhan Akhtar during press conference for his support to women’s empowerment television serial “Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hu”at Taj Lands End, Bandra - Photo by Pramod Thakur (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, 16, April 2015 - Bollywood Actor,Director and Founder of MARD foundation Farhan Akhtar during press conference for his support to women’s empowerment television serial “Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hu”at Taj Lands End, Bandra - Photo by Pramod Thakur (Hindustan Times)
ByJItendra Sarin, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Allahabad high court on Friday quashed an FIR registered against ‘Mirzapur’ web series producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, along with others, for allegedly hurting religious, social and regional sentiments through their portrayal of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh.

On January 17, the UP police registered an FIR against the makers of the “Mirzapur” series under Section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67-A of the Information Technology Act.

Others accused in the case are Karan Anshuman, the director of season one, Gurmeet Singh, the director of season two, Vineet Krishna, the writer of season one, and Puneet Krishna, the writer of season two.

On XXXX, Akhtar and Sidhwani approached the high court seeking quashing of the FIR.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Manish Tiwari argued that even if all allegations in the FIR were accepted to be correct, no case was made out against the petitioners. There was no allegation that the web series was produced with any deliberate or malicious intention of outraging the religious and social feelings of the citizens of India or to insult the religious and social feelings of the people of any particular class, the counsel argued.

The state counsel, however, submitted that there was a specific allegation that the web series hurt the social and religious feelings of the first informant.

After hearing both the parties concerned, a two-judge bench comprising justices M C Tripathi and Subhash Vidyarthi observed: “There is no allegation in the entire F.I.R. that any content shown in the Series portrays any particular religion in a bad light and which can possibly hurt the religious feelings of a class of citizens.”

Earlier, on January 29, 2021, the court had stayed their arrest in the case.

“Even as per the averments made in the First Information Report, it is the informant alone whose religious, social and regional sentiments have been hurt by the web series and not those of any class of citizens. There is nothing on record to indicate that besides the informant, the religious beliefs of any class of citizens were hurt by the web series Mirzapur and what to say about the same having been done with deliberate and malicious intention,” added the bench.

The court further observed, “Upon a specific query being made from the learned counsel for the informant as well as the learned A.G.A appearing for the State, they could not point out any other complaint, First Information Report, resentment or agitation of any form having been made by any class of citizens showing that the web series has outraged their religious feelings.”

The bench, while allowing the petition, observed, “The F.I.R. alleges that illicit relations amongst family members has been shown in the Web Series, but there is no allegation in the F.I.R. that “sexually explicit act or conduct” has been shown in the series. It is settled law of interpretation of Statutes that while interpreting any provision of a Statute, neither any word can be added nor can it be ignored. This principle is applicable in a more stringent manner while examining the provisions of a penal law.”

“Therefore, no word can be ignored from the phrase “sexually explicit act or conduct” occurring in Section 67 A of the IT Act and if the act or conduct shown in the Series does not contain sexually explicit act and it shows the same only in an implied manner, the same would not attract the provisions of Section 67 A of the IT Act,” observed the bench while quashing the impugned FIR.

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